The need to deter insider trading and to send a stern message to lawyers about violating client confidences led a federal judge yesterday to sentence former Ropes & Gray associate Arthur Cutillo to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Despite dire family circumstances and several other factors that cut in Mr. Cutillo’s favor, Southern District Judge Richard J. Sullivan said confidence in both the financial system and the legal profession were at stake as he sentenced the first of several defendants rendered guilty in the Zvi Goffer insider trading ring.